Suryakant Jena

The newly reopened toy train facility in Nandankanan Zoo in Bhubaneswar caught fire on Friday bringing the joy rides for tourists to a halt.

Nandankanan Zoo Deputy Director Sanjeet Kumar informed that the engine of the train caught fire after the 4 pm ride following which it was stopped to avoid any mishap.

It was a moment of relief for the authorities of the zoo as all the 60 passengers on board the train managed to safely get out of the train on time.

Although the exact reason behind the fire in the train engine is not clear, it is believed that a short-circuit in the battery which provides power to pull the train led to the mishap.

The Zoo Deputy Director has clarified that the toy train will remain out of bounds for the tourists until it is repaired and cleared for safety standards.

At present, RITES Limited, a Central PSU under the Ministry of Railways, is in charge of operation and track maintenance for the toy train.

The faster, RITES rectifies the problem and clears the train for resuming running, the quicker we will begin the joy ride once again, said Deputy Director of the zoo, Sanjeet Kumar.

Nandankanan Zoo added a brand new attraction, the eco-friendly toy train to its other facilities last Friday after inauguration by State Forest Minister. The new facility which makes a comeback to the zoo after nearly 7 years was set up at the cost of Rs 3.05 crore.

To make the joy ride accessible to all, the Zoo authorities have kept the ticket rates reasonable. For children, it is Rs.20 while for adults it is Rs.50.

The train has 4 coaches which are pulled by an engine on a 1.2 km broad gauge line.

Nandankanan zoo rolled out a toy train for the first time in 1985 and it used to run on a 1.6 km track and ferry as many as 60 visitors for a 20 minute ride. But its service was stopped in 2014 after the Odisha government canceled its agreement with a private operator.